Two Illinois women have been arrested, after they were allegedly involved in an elaborate, large-scale check scam.
20-year-old Starlette Blackburn, and 39-year-old Barbara Ickes, of Harvard, Illinois have been arrested and preliminarily charged with felony corrupt business influence & control, along with felony attempted theft. Ickes was also additionally charged with felony forgery.
Both females are being held in the Kosciusko County Jail on individual $20,000 bonds.
The Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department detectives was contacted by a local resident who had believed he was being “scammed” on a fraudulent transaction. Officers investigated the provided check and discovered that it was part of a well-known international scam.
Detectives were able to follow the trail of the fraudulent check back to Ickes at her residence in Illinois. At that location, officers located an elaborate “check-printing” process with fictious banking institutions along with list of several other potential victims throughout the country. Ickes also provided detectives information that implicated Blackburn and her involvement in the scam that allegedly began in October of 2012 when they began forwarding money to a Nigerian location.
Detectives seized equipment and computers at the scene. Those are currently being analyzed by the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes Unit.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Detectives have also shared information uncovered from this arrest with United States Secret Service agents to determine if federal authorities can continue the investigation further.
The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department was assisted in the investigation by the Harvard, Illinois, Police Department and the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office advises that the defendant’s charge is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.